Anyone’s who’s been observing Triple M since the axing of Get This knows that comedy hasn’t really been their focus lately – and by comedy we’re talking real comedy, like sketches and funny chat from comedians, rather than a small group of boofheads punctuating their sports chat with vaguely shocking comments followed by “Ha ha ha, steady on mate!”. So it was a pleasant surprise towards the end of last year to see Triple M hire Nick Maxwell and Declan Fay to bring their excellent podcast The Sweetest Plum to radio. Now Maxwell and Fay are doing the drive time shift in Sydney every Monday to Thursday (with Roy & HG on Fridays), and in Melbourne on Fridays (although this appears to be a best-of of the Sydney shows). There’s also a best-of podcast of the Sydney shows with a special podcast-only show each Friday, and based purely on that podcast The Sweetest Plum is excellent programme.
Maxwell and Fay take all the standard components of a commercial radio show – the topical chat, the personal anecdotes, the call-ins, the celebrity interviews – and not only do them extremely well, but in a genuinely funny way. And part of the reason they’re funny is because what they’re saying is real. Theirs isn’t the censored talk of seasoned media types, who can’t say what they really think about, say, a fellow well-known person because they “don’t want to burn bridges” or are worried about a possible libel action, this is the talk of people who say what they think, and are amused by the mere idea that they’re working in radio and are meeting famous people. It’s also the talk of people who don’t seem bothered by the prospect of burning the odd bridge, or have any desire to whip-up media coverage about their show, or wish to do anything other than have fun and make each other laugh. In a landscape where anyone in the public eye seems scared to do anything that isn’t 100% safe these attitudes are refreshing, possibly dangerous.
Comparisons to Get This and Martin/Molloy are somewhat inevitable here. Maxwell and Fay certainly seem to have been influenced by those two shows, but more importantly to have brought a lot of themselves to their show too. So you get spoof-ads for a range of “Plum” products (as you did on Martin/Molloy with products like The Martin/Molloy Comedy Channel) and there are multiple plays of clips from the media to hilarious effect (extracts from John Michael Howson’s on-air breakdown and Charlie Sheen’s recent interviews have been played repeatedly on the show), but you also have a programme hosted by two people who are quite different to either Tony Martin, Mick Molloy, Ed Kavalee or Richard Marsland.
Whether the The Sweetest Plum will rate well enough for Triple M is another matter. “Pure comedies” like this don’t seem to be to everyone’s tastes, even on a radio network which has historically served comedy better than many others1. So let’s hope this does well, because if there’s a radio show which deserves a national audience it’s The Sweetest Plum.
1 Hardcore Get This fans may disagree with this, but apart from The Sweetest Plum there’s not been a show like Get This on any commercial network since.